Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pirates: At World's End is a convoluted mess of shifting allegiances in the form of private hidden agenda and quick-fix marriages of convenience. With an international consortium of "Brethren", the crew of the Black Pearl face off against the assembled might of the East India Company, a.k.a., the British Navy, and The Flying Dutchman that has been pressed into the service of the Brits.

Of course, the Black Pearl must rescue its Captain, Jack Sparrow, from eternal punishment first, then convince the other 7 pirate lords of the Brethren Court that a naval battle against the odds will bring a more favourable outcome than lasting out a siege at Shipwreck Cove. Considering that every pirate is his or her own master, it takes some deft politicking to get a consensus.

So apart from the number of thrilling fight sequences in which the action takes place so quickly and furiously it's hard to keep track of who's where and who's fighting whom at the moment, the negotiations and shared plots, schemes and secrets are equally disorientating. As always, double-cross and betrayal is the name of the game -- though nothing personal, it's just "good business." While such intrigue makes great fun to watch, perhaps a pen and notepad beside me would help me keep the score.

For all the interwoven treachery and skulduggery that goes on in the pirates' machinations, about the question of whether our heroes get what they want at the end, let's just say that what they want comes with a heavy price tag, with the chance for further quests ahead.

Oh, and the mention of Singapore occurs only in passing, nothing to be made a big deal of. It's set in a time of steam-and-bamboo powered technology, security-conscious to the point of paranoia, operated on the backs of slave-labour, and generally exploited by foreigners. Oh, wait, nothing new then.

Pirates is a long movie, well over 2 hours, and in places it does feel a bit draggy. But if you can be bothered, there's a tiny reward for those who sit through the end credits. The worth of the reward is inversely proportional to the fullness of your bladder, but it's your call.

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